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Divorce myths explained

View profile for Lucy Phipps
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Divorce myths explained

In a generation of celebrity and social media, it comes as no surprise that ‘split rumours’ and ‘custody battles’ amongst the rich and famous are filling up the columns of our daily news feed. This reporting means that divorce is now a subject that many people believe they already know all about but it is important to remember that sensationalised reporting can often be misleading and that no two divorce cases or outcomes are the same.

'Divorced in 60 seconds'

A "quickie divorce" is now a well-coined expression of the media with follow up suggestions that marriages are ended at 50 or 60 second Court Hearings. One of the most recently reported followed the demise of the Redknapps', with Louise Redknapp reportedly seeking a quickie divorce from husband of 20 years, Jamie. However, the reality is that all divorces, whether you are a public figure or not, take around 4 to 6 months to conclude and the timeframe actually being spoken about, simply refers to the time it takes for the Judge to formally pronounce (read out) the Decree Nisi which entitles the parties to a divorce. Incidentally, you do not become divorced at this point, you still need to apply for the Decree Absolute 6 weeks later which does legally end the marriage.

'No-Fault Divorce'

The short explanation here is there is no such thing. There is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this must be evidenced to the Court by reliance upon one of five facts: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; two years continuous separation (your spouse must consent to this fact being used); five years continuous separation (where no consent is required); and desertion. 

'It will all end up in Court'

It is actually true to say that the majority of cases are resolved without the need for a Court application and only a very small percentage of those which do enter the court system are ultimately determined by the Judiciary. The growth of alternatives such as collaborative law, mediation and arbitration continue to reduce the number of court applications being made.

'The children always live with their mother'

The law in relation to children has changed considerably over recent years and terms such as ‘custody’ and ‘residence’ are long outdated and have been replaced by Child Arrangements Orders. There is now a greater emphasis placed on the important roles of each parent and promoting co-parenting and shared parenting, where the circumstances of the family allow.

'You can’t find hidden assets'

When commencing divorce proceedings, both parties fall under a duty of full and frank financial disclosure. As part of the disclosure process, your partner will to your solicitor all of their financial information so that your solicitor can conduct a thorough investigation and request such further information as may be necessary. Your solicitor may also refer some of the papers to a forensic accountant or seek further Search/Disclosure Orders to ensure that all of the assets available have been identified. Only once everything has been accounted for will your solicitor be in a position advise you as to settlement proposals. 

'We will have to sell the house'

The Court’s paramount concern when dividing the assets, is the welfare of any child part of which includes ensuring that their housing need will be met. The Court will then have regard to what are often termed ‘the Section 25 Factors’ which include a review of the resources available and the needs of the parties. It is therefore by no means a given that the house will be sold and you should take careful legal advice first before making any decision about whether to put the property on the market.